‘Don’t take advantage of us’: Malawians protest Chinese national’s racist exploitation of kids

  • Dozens of Malawians took to the streets this week to condemn Chinese national Lu Ke for his alleged exploitation of local children and demand action from the Malawian and Chinese governments.
  • Lu Ke, known locally as Susu, allegedly paid children half a dollar a day to star in hundreds of racist videos, which he then sold on Chinese social media.
  • Malawian authorities confirmed on Monday that Lu Ke had been arrested in neighboring Zambia.
  • Protesters marching to the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday demanded that Lu Ke be tried in a Malawi court and that his victims receive compensation and psychological support.
  • Malawi has begun the process to extradite Lu Ke, while the Chinese Embassy in Lilongwe says they will “work closely” with Malawi to resolve the situation.

Dozens of Malawians took to the streets this week to denounce a Chinese national accused of exploiting local children in racist videos sold on Chinese social media.

Lu Ke, also known as Susu, was featured in a BBC Africa Eye documentary that exposed his alleged activities in Lilongwe’s Njewa village for the past five years.

Lu Ke allegedly produced up to 380 videos for 77 million kwacha (approximately $75,300) a day. In return, he paid the children starring in them half a dollar each.

One video highlighted in the BBC documentary shows children in matching shirts chanting “I am a Black monster” and “My IQ is low” in Chinese. Lu Ke reportedly admitted responsibility at first before denying involvement soon after.

The controversy has sparked national outrage, with citizens calling for a crackdown on Chinese immigrants living illegally in Malawi. Chinese citizens have been visiting the African country since China and Malawi established diplomatic relations in 2008.

On Tuesday, protesters led by members of the University of Malawi Child Rights Legal Clinic and other civil society organizations marched to the Chinese Embassy in Lilongwe to condemn Lu Ke and demand action from both the Malawian and Chinese governments. They also called for compensation and psychological support for the children he allegedly exploited.

The protesters faced heavy police presence but were not deterred from voicing their concerns. They reportedly carried signs such as “Children are people too,” “Susu should apologize,” “We are here because of children” and “Yes we are peaceful, but don’t take advantage of us.”

Ndiferanji Black, a Njewa resident, accused Lu Ke of “torturing our children,” according to RFI. Alexious Malamba, a University of Malawi student, said he “cannot believe that in this country, which our ancestors fought to liberate, someone can just come and treat us like that.”

The protesters demanded that Lu Ke be tried in a Malawi court. They also sought punishment for anyone in the country engaged in the exploitation of children in any form.

On Monday, Department of Immigration spokesperson Pasqually Zulu confirmed that Lu Ke had been arrested in the neighboring country of Zambia. Malawian authorities are now working to extradite him.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Lilongwe said it condemns racism “in any form, by anyone or happening anywhere.” The embassy also vowed to “work closely” with the Malawian side to resolve the situation.

Featured Image via BBC News Africa (left, center), africanews (right)

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